Why Better.com believes a no-commission model is better for originators

by David Kitai18 Mar 2021

How do you create a productive, happy, motivated mortgage workforce? How do you keep originators producing, pushing, and growing the company? The traditional model in this industry is about competition and commission. A ‘hunt, kill, eat’ ethos pervades much of the industry, and it motivates many of the industry’s top producers to excel. Better.com, however, is trying to do things differently. From an originator’s perspective that means one huge, key difference: no commissions.

Better’s director of employee experience, Kenna Meyerhoff (pictured above) and Alexandra D’Amico (pictured below), Better’s senior director of talent strategy & people teams, explained just how a no-commission model works at their company. They outlined some of the perks and benefits that Better includes to replace a commission model and made the case for their model as a means of fostering better communication and collaboration between all the stakeholders in the mortgage process. They believe that a no-commission model creates better customer and employee experiences. As Better.com looks to expand its mortgage teams, they believe originators who came up in a commission-based model can find a happy home in their company culture.

“Our goal is to really foster an environment for collaboration,” Meyerhoff said. “It’s not just a place where you come to work, do your job, and leave feeling like your job doesn’t impact anyone around you. We foster an environment where people can come in, share ideas, work together, and try to make things better than they were the day before. The only way we’re going to continue getting better is by doing better for the customer.”

Collaboration is key to delivering that customer experience, Meyerhoff explained, and requires originators to trust their processing staff. Better.com ensures that trust by training their processors on client relationships and shifting their performance metrics to indicators of client experience, like turnaround times. Better’s ‘loan consultants’ know they’re part of a wider team of processing experts and closing experts who can offer the client the same level of service and care that an originator can.

Alex D’Amico explained that the no-commission model shifts responsibility for customer service on to the entire team, allowing originators to trust their processors have the exact same goals in mind.

That model is not without incentives. On top of a competitive base salary, D’Amico explained that originators have a monthly bonus based on performance across a number of KPIs. This allows originators to focus on customer service and building sustainable volume without ever having to worry if a bad month will leave them unable to pay crucial bills. Their perks and benefits package, too, range from online daycare to personalized career coaching. It’s a package that D’Amico and Meyerhoff believe has been crucial for their team during the pandemic and has allowed them to stay focused on their work.

“What makes this model different is its entrepreneurial mindset with the customer first,” D’Amico said. “When you create a compensation model, around what the customer decides, is there a value of what works for them and what’s valuable for them - then you incentivize people to meet those customer needs and customer requirements.”

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D’Amico and Meyerhoff noted that this different compensation model means they hire somewhat differently at Better. The security that comes with a salary allows for more internal growth into origination from processing teams, while the inventive customer focus means they recruit for a skillset based on problem solving and creativity. They’ll test experienced originators with problems they might not have been trained on to see how they think and act on their feet. They want to see what sort of creativity an originator brings. D’Amico explained that Better’s culture of open collaboration and the secure salary plus bonus compensation model are designed to encourage the company’s originators to question processes and offer new solutions.

“There’s probably been a moment in every originator’s career where they did something based on how their boss told them to do it, and thought ‘this makes no sense, I could do it a different way in half the time,’” D’Amico said. “I want to hire that person.”